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Cowboys News: The Dallas Cowboys have their swagger back

All the news you need after your tryptophan-induced naps.

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Cowboys are now playing with a sustained confidence and swagger that'd been missing since 2016 - David Moore, SportsDay
The Cowboys have their swagger back.

"Everyone jumped off the bandwagon at 3-5," said Prescott, who had perhaps his best game of the season with two touchdown passes and another on the ground. "You expect that. But I can tell you who didn't doubt us, who didn't think we couldn't do this or that.

“Everybody in that locker room.”

"It is nice to see those guys out there having fun," executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "Success brings that. As they build their confidence and they start to score points, they see that builds.

"Like any team, when you start to put wins together you start to believe in yourself and get a better swagger."

Dak Prescott-Amari Cooper combo fuels Cowboys’ win - Nick Shook,
The Cowboys went into the Thanksgiving Classic against the Washington Redskins on a run that put them into a position to take the top spot in the NFC East. Despite coming into the game on a short rest, the Cowboys got the job done.

Cooper is such a massive addition for this Cowboys team, which has turned almost completely around since his arrival at the trading deadline. His inclusion has allowed Dallas to spread the offense out more, resulting in an increase in usage of 11 personnel (more on that here), more space for Ezekiel Elliott to work and more places for Prescott to go with the ball. Cooper’s aforementioned pair of big plays were the clear difference Thursday, but his impact goes beyond the big play -- and has the Cowboyslooking night-and-day better in both production and capability moving forward. Look no further than the play of Prescott for proof.

Three takeaways from the Cowboys’ win over the Redskins - Alexis Mansanarez, Sporting News
The Cowboys were locked in a tight battle with the Redskins for three quarters before Dallas started to pull away, but there were plenty of things to take away from the game for both teams. The Cowboys got the division lead from the win, but there were more takeaways than just that.

The Redskins defense did a good job of pressuring Prescott in the first half. They tallied four sacks, which should have favored the visiting Washington squad. The third-year quarterback doesn’t have the best record under that much pressure, and is 1-4 when he’s sacked four or more times in a single game. Prescott later managed to overcome the pass rush and find just enough time to find, you guessed it, Cooper.

Prescott finished 22-of-31 passing for a season-high 289 yards and two touchdowns. He also had six carries for 18 yards, including the rushing score.

Ezekiel Elliott crosses the 1,000 yard mark for the season - @jonmachota
Ezekiel Elliott had a big day against the Redskins on Thanksgiving, rushing for 121 yards and catching an additional 22 yards. Zeke got off to a hot start in the game and never looked back, and before halftime had even begun, the running back crossed the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the 2018 season.

This year, Ezekiel Elliott puts $21 -- not himself -- in Salvation Army kettle - Todd Archer, ESPN
It was bound to happen. Ezekiel Elliott did what Ezekiel Elliott does and scored a touchdown, and instead of merely repeating his Salvation Army-centric celebration from last year’s Thanksgiving game, he came up with something even more fun and creative.

Two years ago, Elliott jumped into the kettle after a Thanksgiving touchdown run against the Buccaneers.

That jump earned him an unsportsmanlike conduct flag, although the NFL spared him a fine. Elliott, in turn, pledged $21,000 and encouraged fans to make $21 donations to match his uniform number. The Salvation Army said at the time that it led to a huge influx of donations in the immediate aftermath of the game.

This time, Elliott -- handed the cash in the end zone by a Cowboys staffer -- was not flagged, with the NFL having since relaxed rules on touchdown celebrations.

Watch: Ezekiel Elliott Puts Dak Prescott in Salvation Army Kettle, Celebration Gets Flagged - Jenna West, Sports Illustrated
Ezekiel Elliott just really loves that red kettle. After dropping some cash in there, Zeke decided he wanted to also drop his quarterback in there after watching Dak score a most improbable touchdown.

Dak Prescott scores on a ridiculous touchdown scramble - @NFL

That score that prompted Zeke to scoop and dump his quarterback into the red kettle was its very own kind of ridiculous. After getting pressured by the defense and not having anyone to throw to, Dak tucked it and ran into the endzone, somehow.

Dak Prescott covers 34.4 yards on 5-yard touchdown run - ESPN Staff
Not only was that touchdown scramble from Dak Prescott exciting to watch, but the distance that he had to travel to get paydirt makes it even more impressive.

According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Prescott actually covered 34.4 yards on the run. It was the second-most yards on any rushing touchdown in Prescott’s career. The most came on Thanksgiving in 2016 against the Redskins, when he ran 37.0 yards on a 6-yard TD run.

Prescott also had a big game with his arm as he became the first Cowboys quarterback with two touchdown passes of at least 40 yards in a single quarter since Tony Romo had two in Week 8 of the 2013 season against the Detroit Lions.

5 thoughts from Cowboys’ win vs. Redskins: Amari Cooper has breakout game; Dallas at its best when Zeke dominates - Jon Machota, SportsDay Dallas
There were a lot of things that the Cowboys showed us on Thanksgiving to give reasons for confidence going forward, and one of those things was the significant uptick in takeaways for the Dallas defense.

DeMarcus Lawrence said only turnovers were keeping the Cowboys’ defense from being elite. He said Wednesday that the defense had not done enough to get the offense the ball back. Lawrence did his part in the third quarter, knocking down a Colt McCoy pass and then intercepting it. The play helped Dallas completely take control of all the momentum. Xavier Woods then added another interception late in the fourth. Anthony Brown got everything started with his first interception of the season late in the first quarter. If those takeaways continue, there’s no reason Dallas shouldn’t win a bad division.

Tyron Smith a last second scratch from the game - @HelmanDC
Tyron Smith suffered a stinger on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons but it was still a surprise to see him not in the lineup on Thursday despite being active. Jerry Jones explained further after the game.

DeMarcus Lawrence gets his first career interception - @MarkBullockNFL
DeMarcus Lawrence has been on a tear lately, but usually when people think of the Tank dominating an offense they think of sacks, or maybe the occasional fumble recovery. But Lawrence took it to another level with a career first.

On Thanksgiving, the Cowboys feel like the team they were built to be - Albert Breer,
This was written before the thanksgiving game and details the decision-making that went into the Amari Cooper trade.

The Cowboys also looked at the idea of drafting Maryland’s D.J. Moore or Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, but thought too highly of Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch to jump on either with the 19th pick in the draft. Right or wrong, they were trying to be disciplined in their pursuit—which led them to a tough spot in October, with a struggling young quarterback piloting a stagnant offense.

So the research from there centered on receivers on the trade block (Cooper, Kelvin Benjamin, Golden Tate), and college players who might merit high-round consideration in April (such as Ole Miss’s A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf, Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown and Stanford’s J.J. Arcega-Whiteside), with the idea of looking at prices and determining whether waiting or splurging would be the right play.

Cooper, as the Cowboys saw it, was better than anyone they’d draft in 2019. In fact, based on where they figured they’d pick, even if there was someone of Cooper’s ilk coming out, they felt like they might have to spend an extra 1 to be in position to get him. The flip side was one obvious drawback to acquiring a young veteran.

“We certainly understood what would we give up. With that number one pick, you’re going to get four years of a really nice cap number, and hopefully a real good player,” Jones said. We certainly gave that up when you give up a 1 for Amari, knowing we’ll probably have to start looking at extending his deal, starting maybe as early as next year. So that was the downside. But to get a guy who’s 24 years old and you’re extending him at 25, for anywhere from four- to a six-year deal, it kind of fit in.”

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